Marcel Barbeau (Marcel Barbeau)

Marcel Barbeau

Artist. Known as a pioneer of abstract art in Canada, he created more than 4,000 works in a career that spanned eight decades. He studied at the École du Meuble in Montreal from 1942 to 1947, where he was taught by Paul-Émile Borduas. In 1948, he was one of the original members of a group of Montreal artists who broke with tradition and the Catholic Church by signing onto the Refus Global Manifesto, which argued for greater freedom of expression and a more open education system. Barbeau left Canada in the 1960s and spent much of his life in Paris, New York and California, returning to Montreal in 2008. His style varied from the lyrical abstracts towards a more geometric mode. In the late 1970s he returned to the free-form, all-over surface activity that was his original style. During his time living in France in the early seventies he began making large-scale sculpture as well as experimenting with performance art. In 2010, he built a monument to the hundreds of victims of the October Crisis, to mark the 40th anniversary of the police raid which took place in 1970. Barbeau was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of Canada in 1995, and in 2013, he won both the prestigious Paul-Émile Borduas prize for visual art and the Governor General’s award in Visual and Media Arts. In June 2015, he was honored with the National Order of Quebec. In 2000, he was the subject of the documentary ‘Barbeau, libre comme l’art’. Barbeau, whose pieces now hang in numerous private and public collections around the world, including the National Art Gallery of Canada, the British Museum and the Stedelijk Museum, died in his sleep of natural causes with a paint brush in his hand. (bio by: Louis M.)


  • February, 18, 1925
  • Canada


  • January, 01, 2016
  • Canada


  • Mount Royal Cemetery
  • Quebec
  • Canada

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